I’m sitting next to a pony-tailed high school senior who drove two hours in the rain from the “Sacramento-Folsom outskirts” just to see G-Eazy, even though she has finals in “chem and language arts” tomorrow.
“He’s the sole reason I came,” she says. “I could have done without the other artists.”
The other artists she is talking about are the show’s openers, which include Berkeley rappers Caleborate and Marty Grimes, DJs Daghe and Amen, Rob $tone, HBK’s P-Lo, and everyone’s favorite nursery rhyme rapper Lil Yachty. Though the energy is high as each of the artists perform — it reaches its pinnacle when Lil Yachty busts out with “One Night” — there’s a restrained energy throughout the sold-out crowd. It’s clear that all of the young adults, teens, tweens, and even children (I saw a 5-year-old and an 8-year-old) are saving up their energy and enthusiasm for the night’s main event: G-Eazy.
It’s a little after 9 p.m. when the 27-year-old rapper — who started his career by selling CDs out of his backpack on Telegraph Ave. in Berkeley — emerges from the opposite end of the arena, engulfed in red smoke. He’s singing “You Got Me,” a single from his 2015 debut album When It’s Dark Out, the chorus of which goes: “Bitch, you got me fucked up!” This strikes me as an odd opener to choose for a crowd that is more than half female, but maybe I’m just being sensitive. They’re obviously loving it, as evidenced by the barrage of screams and the number of people who are standing atop their chairs just get to get a better look at the James Dean look-alike.
He then walks through the center of the audience to get to the front of the stage, at which point the high schooler next to me loses her shit.
“No fucking way!” she screams, waving her arms in the air.
G-Eazy, who is wearing a red and black velvet track jacket, black skinny jeans, and a black bandanna tucked into his back left pocket, then cycles through two older songs from 2014, “Lotta That” and “I Might,” putting emphasis on the latter’s line: “I might just fuck your bitch!”
Looking at him from my vantage point in the third row, I could see how this might very well be possible. G-Eazy is tall and lanky, with large, doe eyes and greased black hair. In a word, he’s hot. And his very unconventional style, at least in terms of being a rapper, doesn’t hurt either. He’s got a tendency to smile at the crowd, and a fuck-ton of energy, too. His long legs are springy and lithe, and he’s constantly jumping up and down and fist pumping the air.
G-Eazy is also a helluva performer. One of the sad facts about hip-hop shows these days is that a lot of rappers like to rely on lip syncing or tracks with pre-recorded vocals on them. Fortunately, this is not the case with G-Eazy. Backed by a drummer, a percussionist, and a DJ, G-Eazy sings every single word in his songs, possessing a voice that is just as sharp and strong as it sounds on his albums.
At various intervals throughout the night, he stops to make small talk with the crowd, telling them on more than one occasion that he’s grateful for the support of his fans who have been “fucking with me on this fucking journey.”
“This is an honor and a blessing,” he says, “and I can’t begin to put it into words. I’m just tripping out.”
The reason why he’s tripping out, he says, is because he used to come to basketball games at Oracle Arena with his mom and they’d sit in the nose bleed seats. Now that he’s the one performing on the arena’s stage, his mind is blown, and he even took a moment the day before during soundcheck to climb up to the nose bleed section and sit there for a while to remember what the view was like from up there.
Calling himself “old as fuck,” G-Eazy then goes on to talk about the 200 shows he played in 2016, a year which he says “has been good to me.”
“Some shows were pretty fucking wack,” he admits. “It’s like what are we doing here? But some shows mean the mother fucking world to me. This show tonight is one of them.”
Here’s where I’ll mention that if there’s one thing that everyone in the audience took away from Wednesday night’s show it’s that G-Eazy loves using the words “fuck” and “mother fucking.” Like, a lot.
After performing the cavernous, synth-punctuated track “Order More,” we get treated to the first surprise guest of the night: Too $hort. The East Oakland impresario comes out onstage singing “Burn Rubber” before launching into everyone’s favorite, “Blow The Whistle.”
Speaking of favorites, once Too $hort leaves the stage, G-Eazy, who has by this point changed into an Oakland A’s jersey, launches into one of my favorite tracks, “Calm Down,” which pairs a bouncy, jungle beat with the rapper’s braggadocio and occasionally humorous lyrics that reference everyone from Eminem and 2pac to Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian.
Next up is the Moroccan rapper French Montana — random, right? — who does a rendition of “Pop That” and his 2013 hit “Ain’t Worried About Nothin.”
After Montana leaves the stage, Bay-to-L.A. crooner Marc E. Bassy comes onstage to perform two songs with G-Eazy, including “Some Kind of Drug” off of When It’s Dark Out.
After taking a selfie with the crowd, that’s when shit really gets wild. E-40, wearing a black hat and a diamond encrusted silver (or perhaps white gold?) pendant necklace, comes out on, with G-Eazy introducing him as “the mother fucking ambassador of the Bay.” The pair perform “Tell Me When To Go,” “Straight To The Point,” and “Choices,” and I swear to Dog that at one point, G-Eazy says to E-40, “I love you.”
E-40 is still onstage when Mistah F.A.B. busts out, wearing perpetually sagging distressed jeans, as Mac Dre’s “Feelin’ Myself” starts to play. But it becomes apparent pretty quickly that we’re not being treated to the original version of the song. As Nef the Pharaoh, Iamsu!, Keak Da Sneak, Ezale, and Too $hort trickle on stage, bouncing around and singing new verses to the classic song, it’s clear that what we’re witnessing is a super-star-studded remix. And it’s awesome. Not to mention, Mac Dre’s mom Wanda is also onstage, which, though she looks a bit out of place, is pretty darn cool.
Finally, after everyone leaves the stage and the crowd calms down, G-Eazy addresses the Dec. 2 Oakland Ghost Ship fire, which, at least for me, has been something I was wondering if he’d bring up. He asks for a moment of silence, but given how riled up the crowd was minutes before, that plan sort of fails. Too many people yell in the background despite repeated requests from others to “shut up,” and after about 30 seconds, G-Eazy breaks the silence and launches into “Everything Will Be OK.”
As the show winds down, G-Eazy reminds the crowd how happy he is to be playing on this stage, and even goes so far as to say, “This is the mother fucking greatest day of my life.” He sings his 2014 hit “I Mean It” before closing his set with arguably his most famous song to date, “Me, Myself, and I.”
As the song comes to an end, G-Eazy peels off his Oakland A’s jersey and throws into the audience, as black and white confetti rains down from the ceiling and the stage’s backdrop alights with sparklers. It’s a beautiful sight to behold and a perfect ending for a wonderfully wild and raucous night.
Read our Q&A with G-Eazy, “Fame Don’t Come Eazy,” here.